ALLIANCE MP CONDEMNS UVF FACEBOOK THREAT THAT FORCED COLLEAGUE TO QUIT HER HOME

 

Cllr Laura McNamee flees home over UVF death threat

EAST BELFAST Alliance MP Naomi Long has condemned loyalists behind a threat to a party colleague.

And she said her party would not be intimidated by “mob rule” when it came to taking tough political decisons.

“That’s something that I will not countenance because I believe fundamentally in the rule of law,” she said.

“I believe in democracy and I believe that it has to stand, so we will not budge because of intimidation or threat or terror.

“I think if we get to the point that we don’t take decisions that we believe are right, simply because of the threat of violence and intimidation, then we no longer have a democracy – what we have is mob rule.”

On Tuesday Belfast councillor Laura McNamee moved out of her home over a UVF internet threat linked to a Union Jack flag vote.

Alliance councillor Laura McNamee said a threat was posted to her Facebook page on Saturday and she was advised by police not to return home.

She said there were police patrols at the homes of some Alliance colleagues over fears a loyalist campaign is about to escalate.

Cllr McNamee said she was too frightened to return to her house in the Sydenham area of east Belfat.

The PSNI had warned her she and other councillors from the Allliance party they were under threat.

The loyalists opposed to any change in the flag policy are targeting prominent Alliance members because the party holds the balance of power on the council.

It was their compromise motion – that the union flag would be still be flown on top of city hall on days such as the Queen’s birthday – that led to the union flag no longer being a permanent fixture on the council building.

Said Cllr McNamee: “The police have told me not to go home until further notice.

“It is a horrible feeling but as a public representative you expect a backlash but only in terms of politics, not physical threats.

“They police had us on a high alert from the weekend.

“I don’t want to be indimiated but I am not stupid because I live on my own and if they are determined enough who knows what they would do?

“I really don’t know when and if I can go back to my house as itt’s important to feel safe in your own home,” she said.

Loyalist protestors outside Alliance HQ on Wednesday

The Alliance representative, who was elected to council two years ago, said she has been told east Belfast UVF members were orchestrating the violence and the intimidation.

She confirmed that it was “highly unlikey” she could return to her home for the foreseeable future and would spend Christmas elsewhere.

McNamee added: “In the days before the riot at City Hall there has been a Facebook campaign and one man messaged me to say that they were going to hold a protest outside my address in Syndenham.

“My address is not public but the fact that they referenced Sydenham means they have my address. Certainly it made these threats very personal.”

On Monday, the council backed an Alliance motion to change its policy of flying the flag all year round.

Minutes after the vote inside Belfast City Hall, a loyalist protest outside the building erupted into violence.

Eighteen people, including 15 PSNI officers, were injured in the rioting and some protesters broke through police lines and tried to storm into the hall.

Ahead of the vote, some of the demonstrators expressed anger at the Alliance Party, for proposing a motion that changed a century-old tradition of flying the Union flag outside Belfast City Hall every day of the year.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP had proposed removing the flag altogether, but they both backed Alliance’s compromise motion to fly the flag on designated days.

The vote was passed by 29 to 21.

Earlier on Tuesday, about 100 loyalists held a protest outside an Alliance party office in east Belfast.

The office on the Upper Newtownards Road is the base of East Belfast MP Naomi Long.

The building was closed and police were present for the duration of the protest.

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